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People power, not American power
National referendum will set in motion peaceful transition to democracy


Pirouz Azadi
April 25, 2005

Dear Mr. Bamdad,

Whereas I do in principle agree with the major message of your letter "Regime change", namely the need for change in Iran, I can not condone your bitter tone and making so many allegations without proof to substantiate them. It perplexes one not to conclude that this is not an orchestrated MEK campaign.

There is only one fundamental piece of truth, based on our collective impression, and not necessarily based on sound mathematical sampling of Iranians in Diaspora: the overwhelming majority are for fundamental change in Iran obtained through a peaceful, independent process. This wish is completing the same aspirations by the 70 millions inside the country.

Now that the U.S. has unilaterally occupied Iraq primarily for oil, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands and misery for civilians in the name of democracy, the best way fundamental change could spontaneously come about in Iran is for the US to be capable of delivering on its promise to establish an independent, democratic country in Iraq.

Perhaps, the leadership of, reaffirming their commitment to their won motto of "Nothing is sacred" would come to their senses and publish the following article in the dire hope that it could a bit elevate the level of debate from the pseudo-intellectual cesspool you have created: You are entitled to your opinion, but if such diuretic expression is the basis to defame others, it would not only advance your otherwise point but more importantly it would delay the whole process, in which case both the US and the Mullahs would continue benefiting from it.

IRAN: The next paradigm of the Middle East
The Map of the Middle East with IRAN in its center here Iran is once again preparing to hold a presidential election in June 2005. The populace has participated in several recent presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections with a massive turnout seeking fundamental reform. After this did not materialize, voter turnout plummeted at the parliamentary election last year; this in turn led to a far right conservative majority parliament. The public, disillusioned with lack of any substantive reform, feels marginalized, ostracized, disenfranchised, disillusioned and frustrated. People have concluded that these elections are simply "make believe" in nature and not substantive.

Every indication shows an extremely low turnout is anticipated for the June election. That does not mean that the establishment, a parallel over-shadow government run by the Supreme Guardian Ali Khamenei, will resort to the old tactic of stuffing ballot boxes by "millions" of fabricated votes. The claim will once again be made that people with a yearning for martyrdom will reaffirm their commitment to the Islamic Republic and its new president, a strategy that was used but failed in the Soviet Union, Egypt or Saddam's Iraq.

Regardless of the outcome of the Iranian presidential vote, the new government will inherit lingering problems, from violation of human rights and suppression of ideas and freedom, to stagnant economic outlook, corruption and waste of resources, nepotism and cronyism, unemployment, inflation, a brain drain and...

One of the likely leading candidates for the presidency is Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is pre-certified by the sole decision-maker of the country, Ali Khamenei. Rafsanjani served a somewhat ineffective two-term presidency before. He remains more known for his rhetoric than substance, and practically the only contender for this, by and large, ceremonial office.

The irony is that he barely ranked 31st in a 30-seat parliamentary election for Tehran at the previous national elections, and all efforts failed to push him up to 30th rank in the slate. Instead, Khamenei appointed Rafsanjani as head of the watch-dog Expediency Council. No wonder the clergy, and the extensive shadow organizational network they have set up, have lost all stature among the masses since they took over in 1979; they are viewed with increasing cynicism and skepticism, if not ridicule. For instance, the Rafsanjani family's vast businesse network of has made them among the world's richest, having risen from nothing to billions of dollars in just 25 years.

Notwithstanding the lack of proof of any direct terrorist role assumed by Iranians in Europe or in the U.S., the spiritual support or participation of the Iranian Government or its surrogates in the training and operation of terrorist organizations against Western interests cannot be refuted. On September 11, that unprecedented despicable act against the U.S. by non-Iranian nationals, has impelled the U.S. to set a new foreign policy, the ramifications of which will reverberate for decades to follow, especially in the Middle East, including Iran.

Through a doctrine of unilateral pre-emptive or preventive strikes against anyone, anywhere, who is deemed to have the possible potential to act in an adversarial position against it, the U.S. is staunchly determined to strike against any real, perceived, or potential target that may undermine its national or international interests. The Afghanistan and Iraqi invasions typify such a move.

The fact that the U.S. still has not been capable of tracking down the al-Qaeda leadership in the Afghanistan-Pakistan corridor or elsewhere, or has not found any evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (the pretext to occupy that country), is no longer an issue. The precedent of military occupation and socio-economic hegemony under the banner of democracy and freedom is now accepted, perhaps reluctantly, worldwide. Every country in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, is under U.S. military or eco-political influence, except Iran.

Paradoxically, evidence supports the argument that terrorism continues to propagate itself, as long as the U.S. does not equitably address the deep root causes of regional conflicts, especially the Israeli-Palestinian impasse. The American, European, and South Asian allies are more interested in retaining economic benefits. In fact, the true principle of idealism, as it applies to equal treatment, justice, freedom and democracy for all nations, has taken a back seat for a long time. There are many in the global community who still hear the term, "Crusade" used by President Bush in one of his early speeches, as the driving force behind U.S. military expansion.

The new world order has certainly given a short-term competitive advantage to the U.S. However, for the U.S. to remain a viable competitive superpower accepted by other nations, it must include in its foreign policy the pillars of its Constitution, namely, freedom, justice, equity and equality for all. A delicate balance must be sought to ensure that the people in Iran, despite their government's anti-Western rhetoric, and other nations, develop mutual respect, understanding and appreciation for the principles that America stands for. Let us bear in mind that the Iranian people spontaneously held a candle vigil in honor of those Americans who fell on September 11, against their government's orders.

If elections since the overthrow of the 2500-year-old monarchy in 1979 are any indication, Iranians expects little improvement, if certain fundamental changes do not occur. This may undermine the legitimacy of the current system, but if pursued peacefully, it would safeguard the integrity of Iran and the aspirations of her people. Iran has a very long tradition of tolerance and culture that spans millennia. A Constitutional monarchy was established in 1906. One should not view Iran with its continuous historical presence in the region, in the same way as its neighbors who were carved out of the Ottoman Empire by the British and the French as late as the 1960's.

It is true that the theological establishment in Iran considers the loss of power as a threat to its existence as a ruling class. Nonetheless, the idea of an all out referendum to seek substantive input from the seventy million Iranians (plus the three million patriots abroad), might serve as a last resort to avoid civil war, a chaotic bloody revolution as in 1979, or external military confrontation with the United States.

If the voices of the Iranian peoples were really heard and they were empowered in a democratic federal system, there might be a peaceful passage to modernity that would preserve the noble aspirations of the diverse Iranian culture, including a reformed religion. This might facilitate Islamic Protestantism based on separation of the Mosque and a democratic State, a model for the rest of the Islamic world to emulate. The alternative is too costly, not only for the country as a whole, but also for the clergy and their cronies entrenched in the layers of shadow government that can only lead to self-destruction and political annihilation.

A national referendum, overseen by international observers, to determine the form of the constitution and government that the majority of the people yearn for, is the only possible solution for the current impasse. Otherwise, to borrow a contemporary expression "all hell might break loose." The heated discussion of referendum, as spread out in every segment of the society and evidenced by close to fifty thousands who have thus far signed a petition online advocating it, can not any longer be neglected by the powerhouses in Iran.

A referendum will set in motion an independent, home-grown and peaceful transition toward the institutionalization of the rule of law, order, security and development for all Iranian nationals, anchored on democracy. Regardless of the outcome, there is merit and the need to investigate a long list of human rights violations, mass executions and torture of political prisoners of conscience, and mysterious disappearances and improprieties, through tribunals verified by international organizations. Just as the rest of the Islamic world, the Iranian populace may conclude that a superior class of clergy is no longer needed for its society to remain ethical, healthy and progressive.

The three million Iranians in Diaspora, including the one million in the US alone, who are deemed among the most affluent and most educated, will undoubtedly play a crucial role in the realization of this dream for their ancestral homeland through trade and intellectual interchange.

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